My Books!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Weak at the Knees

Please help me welcome my guest, Jo Kessel. Jo wrote an article for me about negative criticism, so Jo, take it away. I'm eager to hear what you have to say. 

This is an interesting question and every author (or indeed anyone putting their work in the public domain to be judged) will deal with this in a different way. One very successful novelist friend of mine says she doesn’t read her reviews, because she’d rather not know. I personally couldn’t operate this way - I need to know how readers have reacted to my work and what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy. Inevitably you can’t always please everyone and my husband is very philosophical on this point. “It’s a wonderful thing,” he insists. “Everyone’s going to have a different opinion and aren’t we lucky to live in such a meritocracy.” The few instances that someone hasn’t enjoyed my books I try to remember all the positive feedback I’ve had. There is nothing better than someone stopping you in the street (yes, that has happened to me!) to tell me how much they enjoyed my book. Nothing beats this feeling and so, for every negative review I remember the readers who have been touched by my writing. When I set out to write I told myself that even if ONE person read and enjoyed my work then it would have been worth it - to a degree that is still true. Besides, negative criticism doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Plenty of authors have had bad reviews but have nonetheless gone on to become bestsellers. And if ever I’m feeling blue, I look at the reviews for 50 Shades. For every 5 stars review there’s a 2 star one to match it because again, in my husband’s words, everyone has their own opinion. And look how well E. L James has done! And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, one has to remember that it’s so often the case that it’s the readers who don’t enjoy your book who tend to leave a review, rather than the ones who have loved it.



Jo Kessel




“We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”


Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning.


The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one.


Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible.


Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.


But how do you choose between keeping your word and being true to your soul?


Weak at the Knees is Jo’s debut novel in the new adult, contemporary romance genre – a story about love, loss and relationships, set between London and the heart of the French Alps.



Olivier sits next to me on the piano stool. We’re even closer than that day up the mountain and it’s even more intoxicating. His body is so close to mine that the slightest adjustment would have us touching. I can feel his heat, an electrical charge which makes the side of my leg that’s almost brushing his tingle all the way down. He pulls up his woolly, navy sleeves. “Shall we?” I note the gold wedding band on his dark, manly hands as his fingers hover above the keyboard. I nod, not trusting myself to speak, thinking the sooner he starts playing piano the better, to distract me from this powerful attraction. He crashes both hands down with flair and starts playing his version of the Boogie Woogie. It’s slightly jazzier and more sophisticated than mine. I let him play by himself for a while, enjoying watching him, surprised by how good he is.

The rhythm gets to me, my upper torso unconsciously pulsing forward, toes tapping in my shoes. I put my mug down on top of the piano and start trying to improvise a Gerswhin-esque melody line, fluttering my right hand up and down the keyboard in syncopation to Olivier’s beat. For about ten minutes we thump away, cheesy grins on our faces, occasionally catching each others’ eye. We play whatever comes into our heads, changing the mood and key from time to time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it’s a discordant mess, but it doesn’t matter. By the time Olivier eventually tires and crashes a final chord, our bodies are touching all the way from our shoulders to our knees. I don’t want to move, which is exactly why I do. I stand up, to recover my senses and my drink.

When Jo was ten years old she wrote a short story about losing a loved one. Her mother and big sister were so moved by the tale that it made them cry. Having reduced them to tears she vowed that the next time she wrote a story it would make them smile instead. Happily she succeeded and with this success grew an addiction for wanting to reach out and touch people with words. Jo lives in London with her husband and three children where she works as a TV and print journalist. She tells life stories and can often be found travelling the globe researching the next big holiday hotspots for readers to enjoy. Since becoming a mother anything even remotely sad makes her cry. She’s a sucker for a good romance and tear-jerker movies are the worst. She’s that woman in the cinema, struggling to muffle audible wails as everyone else turns round to stare.
 P.S Jo’s pretty certain one of her daughters has inherited this gene.          
Jo is giving away a $50 B&N or Amazon gift to on lucky reader. To enter to win go to  Good luck!


Joanna Kessel said...

Elaine, thank you so very much for hosting me today on your lovely blog!

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Jeff Salter said...

that's a great scene at the piano.
Like you, I don't understand your friend who doesn't read her reviews. If I have a review, I have to see what it says.

Eva Millien said...

Thanks for sharing the great excerpt and the giveaway. Sounds like a great book. evamillien at gmail dot com

Chelsea B. said...

Good point! Though, I can't imagine anyone reviewing what I wrote. You (and all authors) have back bones, even if you don't feel it sometime!


Natasha said...

Sounds like a great read!!
I love the cover!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com